Course Syllabus


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Hard Times: Balancing Positive Psychology & Disaster Psychology in the  Legal Profession | Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers | MA

Semester & Location:

Spring 2022 - Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course- 3 Credits

Course Study Tours:

Western Denmark & Poland/Krakow

Major Disciplines:

Psychology, Human Development, Education/Educational Studies


A psychology course at university level.

Faculty Members:

Eleftherios Saftis

Program Contact:

Current Students: please contact your faculty using the canvas inbox function

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays, 8:30 - 9:50

Classroom: F24-302


Description of Course

Positive psychology has arrived and has shown its strong intentions of staying as a major player in modern psychology.  It can be seen by the increasing number of courses that are offered in the field but also by the increasing number of publications. Even though psychology has offered us great insights with regards to the development of pathologies/disorders and their treatment, scholars/professionals’ have been arguing that working exclusively within a deficiency model impedes broader development in understanding the way in which individual, communities, and societies tend to flourish.  From Foucault’s (1973) work on the critical analysis of how today’s medical conceptual frameworks define and determine human thought onto Seligman and Csikszenthihalyi (2000) which argue that psychology has tended to view humans through one lens spectacles and paid almost exclusive attention to deficiencies and pathologies.  

Positive psychology, on the other hand, has allowed psychology to provide a new framework on how to conceptualize and understand the contributing factors of what makes individuals, communities and societies to flourish.  In a nutshell the aim of positive psychology is to study the other side of the coin and therefore address the full spectrum of human experience.

 The three pillars of positive psychology are: Positive individual traits, positive emotions and positive institutions. The course is designed to take students on an exploratory journey in examining these three pillars.  By using these three pillars as a the building blocks of a series of lectures students will become equipped with the necessary knowledge base and practical application skills to work effectively with individual, groups and societies using a positive psychology framework.  The course offers opportunities for students to achieve and demonstrate learning outcomes that are simultaneously evidence based and self-directed.  Students will acquire a depth of understanding and a critical awareness in positive psychology.  Most importantly each individual student should be able to develop their own unique standpoint with regards to the theory and its application across a wide range of settings.


Learning Objectives

In this Positive Psychology course we will focus on the way the field is approached in a variety of contexts in which it is applied.

 Regarding Theory and Research

  1. Understand what positive psychology is and its philosophical underpinnings.

  2. What constitutes happiness, well-being and living the “good life”.

  3. Positive psychology within a clinical setting

  4. Methodologies and techniques in positive psychology.

  5. The application of positive psychology in organizations and communities.

  6. Culture and spirituality

On completion of the course, students will have evidenced across a wide range of assessment opportunities:

  1. A comprehensive knowledge base of positive psychology theories and their application in individual, organizational, and societal contexts.

  2. Analyze and apply a range of skills for applying the underlying knowledge base to their day-to-day practice as potentially future positive psychology practitioners.

  3. An awareness on the diverse range of applications with regards to positive psychology and to be able to develop and formulate interventions as potential future positive psychology practitioners’.

  4. An increased level of self-reflection and an ability to analyze and critically debate the various theories explored in class.



Eleftherios Saftis, MSc.

Terry has a MSc. in Health Psychology (2000) and a BSc. (Hons) in Psychology (1997) both from City University UK/London. He also has a certificate in psychotherapy and counseling and is in the process of qualifying as a psychoanalyst from the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research. Terry has co-authored a number of journal articles on post-traumatic stress disorder.

Before joining DIS Terry Saftis worked as the Clinical Director of Community Housing and Therapy, a leading UK charity running therapeutic community households for adults with mental health diagnoses. He has also managed two therapeutic community projects, one, being a project working with homeless veterans suffering from mental health difficulties and the other a project for individuals with a diagnosis of psychosis and personality disorder. He has also worked as a psychologist in the Greek Army. With DIS since 2015.

Contact information for current students



Required Textbook (Available in DIS Library):

  • Frankl, Victor E. (2006). Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press

  • Hefferon K. & Boniwell, I., (2011). Positive Psychology. Theory, Research and Application. UK: McGraw Hill.

    • Readings from this book will be available online; you will not receive a physical copy

Required Articles and Other Media on Canvas:

  • David, S., Boniwell, I., Ayers, A., (2013) The Oxford Handbook of Happiness, Chapters 40, 41, 42, 50, 52, 54, 72.
  • Dodge R, R., Daly, A., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L. (2012). The Challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing 2(3), Pp. 222-235.
  • Forgeard, M. J. C., Jayawickreme, E., Kern, M. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Doing the right thing: Measuring wellbeing for public policy. International Journal of Wellbeing1(1), 79-106
  • Held, B. (2004). The negative side of positive psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 44 (1), pp. 9-46.
  • Mathew, W., Lopez, S. (2009). Positive expectancies and mental health: Identifying the unique contributions of hope and optimism. The Journal of Positive Psychology 4 (6), Pp. 548-556.
  • Nakamura, J., and Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2009). Flow Theory and Research in Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, S. (eds) Handbook of Positive Psychology. Pp. 195-206.
  • Schueller, S.M., Kashdan, T. B., & Parks, A.C., (2014). Synthesizing positive psychological interventions: Suggestions for conducting and interpreting meta-analyses. International Journal of Wellbeing, 4(1), Pp.  91-98.
  • Seligman, M. & Csikszentmihaly. (2000) Positive Psychology an Introduction. American Psychologist, 55 (1), 5-14.
  • Synder C., Lopez, S., Pedrotti, J. (2011). Positive Psychology. The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths. Sage. Pp. 37-66, 175-192.
  • Uchida, Y., & Ogihara, Y. (2012). Personal or interpersonal construal of happiness: A cultural psychological perspective. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(4), 354-369.


Field Studies

See course schedules for details

Guest Lecturers

See course schedules for details


Core Course Week/Short Tour: Well-being in Denmark 

  • Theme: An exploration of the concept of well-being.

  • Purpose: During Corse Course Week and our short study tour to Denmark, we will be considering Well-Being in Denmark. We will explore the various ways that people pursuit well-being in their lives and how the cultural make-up of the country affects overall well-being.

  • Orientation: Activities during the Short Tour will be presented to you in the week before departure, and the Study Tour booklet with details of the trip will be posted to Canvas the week before departure. 

Long Study tour:  Krakow, Poland

  • Theme: An exploration of positive psychology across cultures.

  • Purpose: During our long study tour, we will fly to Poland and visit the two main capital cities Warsaw and Krakow. During those visits we will visit numerous sites and examine key concepts relating to positive psychology. The concepts that we will be concentrating during our visit are; meaning, mindfulness, spirituality and religion. We will also be exploring a historically overview of the city and how key cultural events have influenced the psyche of the population on an individual/group level.

  • Orientation: You will have a presentation in class one week before departure, and the Study Tour booklet with details of the trip will be posted to canvas the week before departure. 


Approach to Teaching

The class will be a mixture of lectures with PowerPoint presentations, group discussions and questions to reflect upon. A large component in this course is based on experiential learning, so students are expected to participate actively in class exercises, reflection and discussions. Students are expected to take active responsibility towards their learning.  Students are expected to follow the following rules in order to promote the best possible learning environment for all:

  • Any personal information revealed in this class is confidential. You may share ideas and experiences with people outside the class, but no information referring to personal identities should be revealed. Any violation of this confidentiality will be taken seriously.

  • Students should be able to feel confident in presenting their differing viewpoints even if those are different to other class members. Differences should always be approached with respect and students to be able to think about these differences in a reflective manner in relation to their own life experiences and how each one digests and processes the different theoretical perspectives presented.


Expectations of the Students

In this course each and every one of us has the equal and unique responsibility to facilitate the most optimal learning outcomes. Students are expected to:

  • complete all reading assignments prior to coming to class

  • contribute to class discussions and group activities

  • draw upon your interactions and observations from daily life, to the theory, research, and practices of Positive Psychology in class

  • work independently and be active in group work

  • write down reflections throughout the course

  • be punctual and attend all classes; missing classes without a legitimate excuse will result in a lower final grade

  • complete all positive psychology exercises


Evaluation & Grading

Students will be evaluated throughout the term by completing various group and individual assignments.  All students will be assigned their groups in the beginning of the term and will be required to complete all coursework in order to receive a pass grade.  Students that are able to produce work beyond the obvious and predictable will be awarded full marks for their efforts.  Students are also expected to contribute to class discussions and show active participation throughout the term in order to receive full marks for the course. 




Participation & Engagement 


 Study Tour Leadership 


Long and Short Study tour paper 


Chasing tracks of happiness 


Positive Organizations/Communities  15%

Participation and Engagement:
Your attendance and active participation are essential in all aspects of this course including class sessions, study tour sessions, and course-related field studies, as well as activities in class discussions, teamwork and general contribution to the progress of the class. Attendance is mandatory

Study Tour Leadership:

You will be agreeing with other students in a group that will be determined in class beforehand. This component consists of a variety of tasks including (for one or two visits) introducing yourself to the visit host, introducing the visit or presentation to the class, asking questions during the visit or presentation, and leading the class in a discussion immediately following the visit. Students will be marked throughout the study tours even if they are not leading the particular visit. All students are required to participate actively in group discussion throughout all study tour visits attended.

Chasing Tracks of Happiness:

Students are required to carry out 2-3 short interviews of people they either have a relation to or someone they are able to approach in the Copenhagen area, discussing the questions that this paper seeks to answer: “What might be the reason that the Danes are ranked high in wellbeing measures consistently across different measures. More information is provided in the assignment sections in Canvas. 

Core Course Week/Long Study Tour:

Students will be required to write an individual paper (5 -6 pages excluding cover page and references, 12 point font) with regards to the themes explored in the study tours in Denmark/Poland. More information is provided in the assignment sections in Canvas. 

Group Presentations: Positive Psychology Organizations/Communities (15%): 

Students will be split into groups of 4-5 people and will be required to collect evidence with regards to an institution/community project of their choice (students are not allowed to use sites of their practicum). Evidence will predominantly be collated from the Internet and the personal webpages of the organisations/communities that students have chosen. Students can concentrate on one piece of evidence or multiple pieces of evidence with regards to the running principles of the organisation/community. An example can be on the statement of purpose of the organisation, human resources, newsletters, historical briefings, business plans, research etc.

After choosing an organisation/community, students will be asked in groups to make a proposal on how they would integrate positive psychology principles towards improving the organisation/community. Students should support the changes they chose to make with relevant positive psychology research and with a clear idea of how the change will help the functioning of the organisation/community. 


Disability and Resource Statement  

Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Academic Support ( to coordinate this.  In order to receive accommodations, students should inform the instructor of approved DIS accommodations within the first two weeks of classes.




You are expected to attend all classes, guest lectures, workshops and field studies. If you must miss a class for religious holidays, medical reasons, or other valid reasons, you must let us know as far in advance as possible of the absence and obtain information about the work you must do to keep up in class. If you miss a class for any other reason (sudden illness, family emergency, etc.), you should get in touch with us as soon as possible and arrange to make up the work missed.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism and Violating the Rules of an Assignment

DIS expects that students abide by the highest standards of intellectual honesty in all academic work. DIS assumes that all students do their own work and credit all work or thought taken from others.   Academic dishonesty will result in a final course grade of “F” and can result in dismissal. The students’ home universities will be notified. DIS reserves the right to request that written student assignments be turned in electronic form for submission to plagiarism detection software.  See the Academic Handbook for more information, or ask your instructor if you have questions.

Policy on late papers:

Late papers will be accepted, but your grade for the paper will be reduced by half a letter point for each day that it is late.

Policy for Students Who Arrive Late to Class:

Arriving late in a regular manner will result in a lower final grade.

Academic Regulations:

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due